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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Time-Lapse: Trails End

By Phil Plait

Randy Halverson is an amazing astrophotographer, whose gorgeous photos and time-lapse animations have graced this blog numerous times.

His time-lapses show landscapes lit by the setting Sun, roaring thunderstorms, and of course the night sky wheeling overhead … and his newest, Trails End, is magnificent. He’s posted a trailer for it, and wow. Make sure this is set to the highest resolution you can handle (it’s filmed in 4K!), make it full screen, and turn the volume up.

If your heart doesn’t pound at 1:30 when that massive thunderstorm rolls in, then I can’t help you.

As I watched, I was amused to see quite a few geosynchronous satellites in the sky sequences. These are satellites in orbits about 40,000 kilometers from the Earth’s center; in such an orbit they take 24 hours to circle the Earth once, so they appear to stay in more-or-less the same spot in the sky relative to the ground. A trick to finding them in the shots is to not focus on any one part of the sky, but let your gaze take in the whole frame. Stars will move, but the geosynch sats won’t.

At 2:48 I noticed something odd, and Halverson confirmed it: He caught a rocket boosting some satellites into orbit. Also, at 3:20, there’s a meteor that leaves behind a persistent train, a glowing vapor trail. The video slows there for a moment to give you a chance to see it. Very very cool.

Remember, this is just the trailer for the much longer version that’s shot in ultra-high def. If you have a high-res monitor (or a 4K TV!), you could do a lot worse than getting this movie

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